staff, July 26, 2012

Gia Lewis-Smallwood is a former discus thrower at Illinois who recently qualified for the 2012 London Olympics as a member of Team USA. In her second Big Ten Olympic journal for, she writes about what it?s like to be in London. Read her first entry in this post and find more Big Ten Olympic journals here.

Here's what Lewis-Smallwood sent us Thursday.

"There are no words to express how completely awesome London and the Olympic Village is. Before I came to the London others told me the Olympic Village was similar to your first day of  college. You meet new people and get accustomed to a new environment.

Gia Lewis-Smallwood will throw the discus for U.S. at the 2012 London Olympics. The former Illinois thrower and Champaign native is chronicling her first Olympic experience for Read all of our Olympic journals.

"I was very surprised that when I first arrived to the village it felt like the first day of college except everyone was confident, capable, and ready to enter a realm of greatness that even as I am writing this now is seemingly unimaginable. It is kind of a Disneyland for potential to be realized over the next two weeks. Everyone is amongst the world's best in what they can do, and we are going to push each other and the boundaries of the possible.

"That attitude and energy is in the air here. It feels so tangible and real. There is nothing like it.

"The most amazing part of the Olympic village for me is the dining hall. There are tons of different places to eat including a 24-hour McDonald's. The village dining hall is as big as a football field filled with food from the world. You can get food from Britain, the  Caribbean, India, the Americas. The food is so good! There is a funny quote I have heard used among the American athletes: Be careful about the dining hall. It's easy to eat yourself out of a medal.

"For the USA track and field team we arrived at the Olympic Village today. Prior to that time we were in Birmingham, England. Birmingham is similar to London in that everyone there is friendly and wonderful. The town reminds me of a city similar to old Chicago with beautiful buildings or flats and amazing architecture. It's weird to walk down the streets of Birmingham and realize there are buildings that are older than our country!

"When I was in Birmingham I trained three times a day and received treatment. That is the best part about making a major team is all medical services. Imagine having an unlimited amount of massage therapy, chiropractic adjustments and recovery treatment at your disposal. My day consists of one session of throwing, one session of lifting and one session of balance and stability work. At night I would either get massage therapy or chiropractic adjustments!

"I actually compete in my first round of competition in eight days and am extremely excited. Tomorrow is Opening Ceremonies and the village is buzzing with anticipation.

"So as I write this post I have I ask myself what should I take away with this experience? What does being here really signify? How can I put this experience in the right context and not miss the point of what I am really suppose to learn? As I figure this out over the next two weeks, I can say that my first days here are giving me a glimpse into the part of the answer.

Part of the greater point lies within acknowledging the true spirit of the Olympic Games. Essentially you have a group of people who are not afraid to harness the greatness within. On some level rather consciously or unconsciously they have consented to taking their talent and defining the possible. When you get all of those people in one area, the atmosphere just about buzzes with possibility and inspiration. No one is thinking about all that they lack instead they are focused on the greatness to come, that exists now and is just looking for an opportunity to come out.

Certainly, only a relative few make it to the Olympics, but everyone on this earth can consent to reaching their highest potential and not shy away from their greatness within. At this moment we all are just like the athletes at the Olympic Village. Right now the games have not yet begun and all you can do is follow your talent, consent to do your absolute best and see where life takes you.

"It's going to be an amazing two weeks. Let the games begin."